Thursday, September 13, 2007

Get your filthy rodent OFF me!

Also? Graphic novels.

A long peruse of the Young Adult Graphic Novel shelves last week yielded the following books aimed at teenage boys. An even longer stint reading them (it involved beer) yielded the following extremely brief reviews.

The Lost Colony volume 1: The Snodgrass Conspiracy by Grady Klein. This here's an odd book. Not really the adventure story you'd expect given the title, it reminds me more of Pogo, or, as other reviewers have pointed out, Mark Twain. Hard to say which kids are going to go for this (besides the ones who invent their own frog superhero character in high school and then sew up beanbag toys of him and yes I'm talking to you Sean), but it's worth opening up and showing off for the artist's savvy and exuberant use of color alone.

Y: The Last Man volume 2: Cycles by Brian Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan, Jr. Now this book is why I used to read the comic books put out by DC's Vertigo imprint. Funny and fast, set in a near future after a mysterious ailment has wiped out all men except one, it really reminded me of Hellblazer or Swamp Thing. Did Brian Vaughan ever write Hellblazer? Hm.

Missouri Boy by Leland Myrick. Probably more appealing to adult readers than to teenagers, this book offers short episodes in a boy's life, some seminal, some lovely, some harsh. It's a really quiet book, with a kind of Chester Brown type of faux naive illustration style. Classic indie.

Garage Band by Gipi. Italian. A little sketchy for your average teen, and in fact, it didn't really hold my interest either, I think because the daily real lives of teenage boys are not really that compelling, especially if they're in a band. I hate to buy into the stereotype, but if they had to save the world, or got involved in a smuggling operation or something, now that I could get behind. As it is, I don't know who I'd recommend this to, except the artist kids.

Deogratias: A tale of Rwanda by J.P. Stassen. Wow and holy shit. You would expect a graphic novel about genocide to be appalling and gut-wrenching, and Deogratias is, but at the same time it manages to put faces on the various players in Rwanda - the Hutu, the Tutsi, the Two, the Belgians, the French - and illustrate their motivations on a personal level. Certainly give this book to the boys with a passion for misery and spectacle, but I would also recommend it as a work of historical fiction and as a classroom item.

It appears that my system is buying a lot of First Second stuff. I would like to see more from the mainstream publishers, from Drawn and Quarterly, and from Last Gasp. It may be that that stuff is shelved as adult, and I wonder who makes the distinction.